Environment

Ocean Biology Processing Group at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center / Flickr, Creative Commons

First established in 1970, Earth Day is celebrated worldwide on April 22nd every year to celebrate and support the protection of the environment. Has it worked?

Ralph Rosenberg, Executive Director of the Iowa Environmental Council, says Earth Day has evolved from raising awareness, to sparking action, to returning results.

"There's an urgency now," says Rosenberg. "People have seen some progress in 46 years, but we do need to see awareness and action year-round."

Univ. of Iowa Press

Ecologist Cornelia F. Mutel of rural Iowa City has written a string of insightful books about the Iowa environment, beginning with "Fragile Giants: a Natural History of the Loess Hills" back in 1989.   At that time, grandchildren were in her distant future.  Now that she's a grandmother, she wants to do everything she can to make sure there will be a healthy earth for her grandkids' lives.

Julie Englander/IPR

If you find an injured raptor in eastern Iowa, there’s a place to take it. Two people have established a new raptor rehabilitation center because they felt there was a lack of medical resources for injured birds in the area.

USDA

A Republican lawmaker in the Iowa House who works in environmental protection in his day job has a new plan for paying for water quality, but his fellow Republicans have nixed the idea.  

Water quality is on the agenda at the statehouse this year because of a proposal from Governor Branstad to use some school funds to clean up Iowa waterways.

Representative John Wills of Spirit Lake works for the Soil and Water Conservation District in Dickinson County.  

Conservation Fund

Prairie-chickens once thrived in the prairies of Iowa, but by just after 1900, they were on the verge of extinction.  Today, these beautiful birds with a unique mating ritual can be found in only 9 of Iowa's 99 counties.

Photo by Amy Mayer

In a packed-to-capacity community room in Boone, the three-member Iowa Utility Board heard testimony today over the proposed Bakken oil pipeline, which would carry crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields, across Iowa, to Illinois.

Before testimony got underway, opponents of the pipeline staged a protest outside the community building on the Boone County Fairgrounds.

There was a time when it was a rare treat to spot a white-tailed deer in Iowa.  That treat is no longer rare.  Today, it's our monthly Wildlife Day on Talk of Iowa, with wildlife biologist Dr. Jim Pease of Ames.  Jim tells us about the history of deer in the Hawkeye State, their place in the environment and our complicated relationship with them.

Wikimedia Commons

Energy company Dakota Access wants to build a pipeline across Iowa to transport crude oil from North Dakota.   The company has initiated eminent domain proceedings against Iowa State University.  

But university officials say they’re willing to negotiate voluntary easements for the ISU property the pipeline would cross. 

Vice-President Warren Madden says the university will resist condemnation, but if the Iowa Utilities Board approves the project, then ISU is ready to negotiate terms.    

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

U.S. energy policy that effectively promotes corn ethanol is holding back a generation of more environmentally sound fuels, according to a new report by the Environmental Working Group.

To grow corn for ethanol, farmers have been plowing up new land and fertilizing big crops. Some research says that means corn-based ethanol can have a larger carbon footprint than traditional fuel.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad says he will not intervene in the controversial Bakken Pipeline project which is under consideration by the Iowa Utilities Board.  

And he is downplaying landowners concerns.    

Dakota Access wants to crisscross the state with a pipeline to transport crude oil from North Dakota.   

Some landowners have not granted permission.    But Branstad argues the company won’t be taking their land.

Penguin Random House

Banker, lecturer and co-author of the new book "A Path Appears; Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity," Sheryl WuDunn, was invited to Des Moines to share her ideas from the front lines of social progress with participants in the "Borlaug Dialogue" of the World Food Prize.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Representative of Iowa industries which emit more than 100 tons of material into the atmosphere each year were at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Air Quality Bureau today.

They’re weighing in on plans to raise their fees to better enforce the Federal  Clean Air Act. 

The DNR proposes a new $24,000 application fee for operating permits.   Also companies would pay more each year per ton of emissions.   

Bureau  Chief Catherine Fitzsimmons says with the new money, the DNR can hire more staff.  

USDA photo by Darin Leach / U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Earth has been through many changes. We can see the evidence when we study the geological record, but looking ahead is harder.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe explores the science of predicting climate change.  What do we know about the future of our planet, and how can we prepare for what is to come?

Joyce Russell/IPR

By a vote of seven to two, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission Tuesday sided with developers over environmentalists and homeowners when it comes to putting back topsoil after new homes and businesses go up.     

The new rules will no longer require at least four inches of topsoil.     

Federal rules require restoration of topsoil to prevent stormwater runoff, but developers say Iowa’s standard is too strict.      

courtesy of Bill McKibben

Rapidly melting sea ice, crippling drought, violent storms--author and environmental activist Bill McKibben has been predicting these events for decades.  But now, he says, "We need to get serious about taking care of ourselves."  IPR's Charity Nebbe speaks with McKibben about what it will take to convince humanity to take action on climate change.  McKibben delivered the commencement address at Grinnell College on May 18.

Dan Farber / flickr

Former Vice President Al Gore is in Cedar Rapids this week as part of his Climate Reality Project, a tour meant to teach people how to “take on the climate crisis." Participants in the three day session are encouraged to give press interviews, communicate with government officials, and organize others in the effort against pollution.

Gore says he believes this year is a turning point in government action on climate change, and he believes the environment will be a key issue in the 2016 presidential election.

Photo by John Pemble

Having served from 1959-1995, 95-year-old Neal Smith is the longest serving Iowan in the United States House of Representatives.

Sarah Boden/Iowa Public Radio

Three potential Republican contenders for the White House spoke at the "Road to 2016: Informing the Energy Debate" today at the World Food Prize building in Des Moines. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania all say that regulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hinders U.S. economic growth.

Kenneth Mertes

Many scientists believe that Earth is in the midst of a sixth great extinction. On this edition of Talk of Iowa, threats to biodiversity in the Midwest.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

Reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books is a rite of passage for millions of children. 

Chris Tomlinson / Geograph

Ebola and algae scares hit in Western Africa and Toledo respectively this week. The threats may feel far away, but they hit home closer than you think.

On this News Buzz edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Anne Pham, in charge compliance and enforcement of the drinking water program at the Department of Natural Resources. She explains what made the water in Toledo undrinkable and how we can protect Iowa water.

Courtesy of Emily Robbins

Emily Robbins is a city girl now.

Well, I’m using that term as a cliché. Robbins, 27, lives in Kansas City and works as an engineer at a large firm. She is part of a profession that is made up of just 14 percent women.

Her choice of professions makes sense, though, when you know that she started out as her father’s “boy.”

Katherine Perkins / IPR

The Clean Air Act was most recently amended in 1990, with overwhelming bipartisan support.  Is that kind of sweeping environmental policy possible today? 

The True Cost of Energy

Jul 28, 2014
Kwerdenker / Wikimedia Commons

"Cheap energy isn't cheap."

keeva999 / flickr

The EPA sets regulations for 6 sources of air pollution, but there are hundreds of pollutants known to the EPA that go unregulated.

David Wade Couch

Today we continue our summer series on the environment by taking a look at urban development – what we’re doing right and wrong.

Petrarchan47 / Wikimedia Commons

A beloved Iowa eagle was found dead earlier this week. Indy, as his fans called him, a young male eaglet whose hatching was witnessed by thousands online earlier this spring was electrocuted by a power pole on Tuesday. The bird had a large following in the state and across the country; more than 500 people have posted condolences on the Raptor Resource Project’s Facebook page. Host Ben Kieffer speaks with their executive director, Bob Anderson, about what happened to the bird and what can be done to protect these eagles in the future.

Courtesy of PLASTIC RECYCLING OF IOWA FALLS, INC

Reduce, reuse, recycle. That’s been the mantra among the environmentally conscious for the last 25 years. This hour – an in-depth exploration of recycling in Iowa.

Clare Roth

Recycling can be a tricky process - whether you leave materials curbside or deposit them at a drop-site, it's often hard to know exactly what can or can't be recycled.

On this Talk of Iowa "short," Joe Hummel of City Carton and Theresa Kurtz of the Iowa Recycling Association share how recycling really works, answer common questions, and alleviate recycling myths.

DO -

Clean out your glass and plastic bottles as much as you can.

Officials with the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management agency  released to the general public the routes rail lines take to haul crude oil through the state from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.    The rail lines are complying with a new federal mandate to report shipments of more than a million gallons.     

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